1983 Review of Microsoft Windows

Are you curious about the origins of the ubiquitous Windows Operating System? Sure you know about Windows 3.1, but what about earlier iterations of the OS? Nathan’s Toasty Technology has posted a December 1983 issue of Byte magazine with a review of Windows 1.0. The review has been transcribed into text and has some great accompanying scans. Be ready to be shocked, but this is how it all began:

The open approach and the presentation of Microsoft Windows as an extension of MS-DOS 2.0 will help attract the horde of programmers necessary to assure acceptable execution speeds on the IBM PC. Just as enough programmers working long enough on different approaches have made the Apple II perform feats that once seemed incredible, enough programmers working long enough on enough different approaches will make applications run fast under Microsoft Windows on ordinary hardware. Even if this judgment proves mistaken, Microsoft’s policy of openness and low pricing will have made possible a major experiment in mass-market software. For many software authors as well as users, this will be the first chance to test an approach to the user interface that has hovered just beyond reach for several years.

1983 Review of Microsoft Windows via Nathan’s Toasty Technology

Pirates of Silicon Valley – That Other Pirates Movie

Sure, Johnny Depp may get all the attention these days with his Pirates of the Caribbean quadrilogy. But before those films came along, there was another good film about pirates – only they were pirates of a very different sort. Pirates of Silicon Valley is a made-for-TV adaptation of the book Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. The movie chronicles the divergent paths that the Apple and Microsoft teams took as they revolutionized the personal computer industry. Full disclosure from this reviewer – I am a fan of both companies and use both their products. The film covers not only the origins of the businesses and the development of the technology, but also delves into the personal lives of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

I found the history fascinating, but the characters nearly universally unlikeable. Noah Wyle exudes a sort of unstable charm as Steve Jobs. Anthony Michael Hall portrays Bill Gates as a socially inept yet ruthless businessman. John Di Maggio seems to channel a bit of his voicework of Bender from Futurama as he portrays Steve Ballmer as a dimwitted partying fratboy. Really, the only figures who escape relatively unscathed are Paul Allen and Steve Wozniak. On a completely unrelated note, as a Deep Space Nine fan, it was great to see J. G. Hertzler as Ridley Scott during the filming of the epic 1984 commercial.

Although the production values are excellent for a made-for-TV movie, you won’t be fooled into thinking this film received a theatrical release. But, the pacing is snappy, and if you have an interest in the subject matter, you’ll find it well worth your while. Easily the most interesting part of the film is the time period in which it was filmed – not the time period it portrayed. As the movie comes to a close, it provides an update on how the characters fared, as of 1999. At that point, things looked pretty bleak for Apple. I remember watching the film when it first aired – and thinking how sad it was that Apple appeared on the verge of failure. I’m certainly glad that the movie and I were both wrong in our pessimistic views.